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Rail union to put new pay deal to members after talks resume

Services were cut last week as a consequence of the pay dispute (Jane Barlow/PA)
Services were cut last week as a consequence of the pay dispute (Jane Barlow/PA)

A train driver’s union will put a new 4.2% pay offer to members as Scotland’s railway moves closer to a return to normal.

Official negotiations restarted on Thursday between Aslef and ScotRail, with the union’s Scottish organiser, Kevin Lindsay, saying the new deal would be subject to a ballot by members.

As a result of the dispute, drivers refused to work on rest days or on Sundays, with ScotRail cutting more than 700 services last week.

Following the negotiations, Mr Lindsay said: “Aslef entered these talks in good faith.

“We have negotiated a pay offer of 4.2%, a three-year, no compulsory redundancy deal and a number of other improvements.

“These will now be put to our members for their consideration.”

David Simpson, the service delivery director at ScotRail, said: “This was a positive and encouraging meeting.

“We made a significantly improved pay offer to Aslef representatives, which was made in good faith following the concerns they have expressed over recent days. We’re pleased that Aslef will now put the offer to its members.

Train at Edinburgh Waverley
More than 700 services were cut in response to the dispute (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“Our substantially improved pay offer reflects the cost-of-living challenges faced by families across the country, while balancing it against the need to provide value for the taxpayer.

“I look forward to hearing from the trade unions in the coming days. I’m hopeful we can resolve the current dispute and work together to encourage people back to the railway.”

And Transport Scotland said it hoped “that this is an indication that ScotRail can return services to the previous timetable as soon as possible”.

“We all need to work together to make public ownership of our railways a success. Ministers are committed to ensuring that the railway unions are part of that success, and the vision which will move forward Scotland’s railways,” its spokesman said.

The development comes after transport minister Jenny Gilruth said she hoped there would be an announcement of the return of some services on Thursday or Friday.

“The other action I have taken is to ask ScotRail to look at reintroducing a number of services,” she said in response to a question from Tory MSP Graham Simpson.

“There will be more information forthcoming on that from ScotRail later today, I hope, or on Friday.”

The minister, when pushed by a heckle from Mr Simpson in the Holyrood chamber, said she could not say what services may be re-introduced, adding: “He is heckling me from a sedentary position, I’m not here to inform the member of additional services that ScotRail will be running, because ScotRail is the train operator, I am the transport minister.

“The member needs to recognise the differentiation between the two – I don’t drive the trains.”

She added: “I have been meeting repeatedly with ScotRail to improve the service that is being delivered, but I have to remind the member that we’re in this situation because of an industrial dispute between Aslef and ScotRail – the employer.”

Meanwhile, Deputy First Minister John Swinney was challenged on the provision of trains for fans going to and from the Scotland’s key football World Cup qualifier against Ukraine next week at Hampden.

The much-anticipated tie could book Steve Clarke’s team a place in Qatar this winter, but Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross raised concerns about transport to the Glasgow stadium as Mr Swinney stood in for Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions.

“Next week our national men’s team are playing their biggest match for over two decades, the Tartan Army will need to get to and from Hampden on ScotRail,” Mr Ross said.

“Deputy First Minister, will your Government have gotten a grip on this situation by then, and if not, when can people expect the rail service that they need?”

Mr Swinney said: “Obviously, we want to see more services in place to deal with the Ukraine match and I’m very confident that ScotRail will have in place additional services to ensure that the specific requirements of accessing Hampden will be addressed as part of that process and there will be announcements made in due course.”